Scott H Young

Here’s What’s Wrong with Self-Help


“I’m not really into that personal development stuff.”

A friend said this to me the other day. I found it interesting not because it’s unusual to say, but because it’s common. I know many people who wouldn’t be caught dead walking around the self-help aisle of a bookstore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the desire to live a better life.

Self-help is an interesting field because while practically everyone is interested in how to be happier, richer, healthier or more successful, many of those same people will never read a book or blog about it.

It’s easy to understand why some people don’t learn about car repair or computer programming. It just doesn’t interest them. But since pretty much everyone is interested in having a better life, why are self-improvement junkies the minority?

The Difference Between “self-help” and Self-Help®

I think the key to understanding my friend’s sentiment and many people’s lack of enthusiasm over self-help is in understanding the difference between lowercase “self-help” and uppercase Self-Help®.

The terms self-help, personal development, self-improvement, lifestyle design, wellness or whatever you call them can have two different meanings. The first meaning being the overall philosophy of striving to live better, particularly with the individual as the agent in making this possible.

I think few people object to this first definition of self-help. Almost no one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “I really hope my life gets worse today.” Self-improvement of this kind is hardwired in the human condition and we’re all devotees to some extent.

The second definition is of Self-Help®. Instead of representing the broad struggle for meaning and happiness in life, it represents a much narrower opinion on what the answer to that question is. More than that, it often represents a business of advice-giving which if not entirely corrupt and fake, certainly isn’t without flaws.

When people like my friend in the introduction say they don’t like self-help, it’s because they don’t like Self-Help®. They want better lives, they just don’t want to buy seminar tickets from a self-appointed guru.

The Two Things Wrong with Self-Help®

There are two reasons I see for disliking Self-Help®. The first is that you dislike the substance of the philosophy backing Self-Help®, the second is that you dislike the style in which this philosophy is delivered.

Many people are eager to criticize the style of self-help. This definitely has flaws, but as someone who strives to write about self-help but often falls into Self-Help®, I think there are reasons why these stylistic flaws exist.

More than style, however, I believe it’s the substance of self-help which is what people should be thinking about. But, just as political junkies should care more about the policies of elected officials, rather than the party they represent, too many people attack or worship Self-Help® without really viewing its contents.

Gurus, Goals and the Style of Self-Help®

“A self-help book you don’t like is self-help. A self-help book you like is just a book.” - Seth Godin

There are a couple big flaws in the style of self-help:

  • Guru-worship – the tendency to turn one pundit into an infallible expert.
  • Profit-bias – emphasizing ideas that are easier to sell as information products
  • Answer-bias – emphasizing easy answers over ambiguous ones
  • Anecdote-bias – focusing on emotional stories, rather than robust evidence
  • Success-bias – speaking from a minority of successes, ignoring hidden failures
  • Circular-authority – where the proof of your expertise is mostly in your success giving that same expertise

I could go through them one-by-one, but I see most of these stylistic flaws as having one of two root causes, self-help as a business and being a full-time advice-giver.

Self-help as a business creates many of these biases. Consider the tendency for self-help pundits to become gurus. Why is this? Well a big part of it is that there’s a large section of the population that wants gurus. They want to feel like they are following a leader who has all the answers.

People say they want healthy food, but end up buying greasy burgers, so McDonalds responds by mostly selling greasy burgers. Similarly, people say they want intelligent discussion, but they pay for gurus, so business pressures push pundits to turn themselves into gurus. I’m not saying it’s right, or inevitable, just that those pressures shape the business of self-help.

Answer-bias occurs because people are more willing to pay for answers than ambiguous, albeit more honest, questions. Success-bias occurs because people are willing to pay for how to be successful, not the cold facts about success rates.

Even if we ignore the profit incentives that warp the style of self-help, simply being a full-time advice-giver creates stylistic flaws. Circular-authority, particularly with the top people, occurs because it is insanely difficult to achieve extraordinary success both in a field and also in a field giving advice. At some point, your major claim to fame will eventually be your advice-giving business.

Realizing that these stylistic-flaws originate, in part, because of the pitfalls of trying to make money off giving advice and following that pursuit full-time, is a way to avoid some of them. I’d avoid the people and ideas you feel are too biased to be trusted, but expecting mild bias even in the people you do trust is a way to correct for it.

Optimism, Passion and The Substance of Self-Help®

While many people will attack or defend Self-Help® based on it’s stylistic flaws, what I think really matters is the substance of those ideas. What is the philosophy of Self-Help®, how does it say you should live and make decisions?

Unlike the stylistic flaws which influence all Self-Help® to a certain degree, the substance of Self-Help® varies dramatically. Some argue you should be disciplined, some argue you should relax. Some argue you should set goals, others say you should stay in the moment and ignore future worries. Save and invest or enjoy the present? Family or career? Faith or atheism?

The part I find most interesting is that many self-help junkies enjoy the majority of self-help books, even when they contradict wildly in actual substance. Similarly, many people hate Self-Help® even when they would agree with everything an author says on how to live. People emphasize the style over the substance, and buy the book because they like the cover, not because they actually have a well-thought agreement on anything the author is saying.

However if you’re interested in lowercase self-help (and who isn’t?) it’s this substance that really matters for your life. Assuming you’re not just buying books as paperweights, or avoiding the self-help aisle out of principle, what should matter to you are the actual ideas, not who they come from.

The Role of Self-Help® in “self-help”

I’m a devotee to lowercase self-help even though I’m often a sceptic of Self-Help®. I think there are many ways intelligent people can avoid the stylistic biases that often plague the business of self-help without giving up on their journey to thoughtfully pursuing a better life philosophy.

Some suggestions:

Final Thoughts

I’m both a reader and writer of lowercase self-help. And, yes, I do possess some of the stylistic biases of Self-Help®, as much as I try to avoid them. I even have a new video course coming out, so I’m very aware of how all these critiques could be equally applied to me.

Part of the solution for me has been to create a division between my blog and the business attached to it, so that I can still create money without turning every article into an extended sales pitch. Another part has been to focus my business end to a narrower spectrum of how-to advice (mostly rapid learning, and personal productivity) so that I can still explore the big ideas of life without making myself an expert in every facet of that big picture.

But ultimately, even I can’t avoid every trace of bias, so it’s up to you as a reader to think critically, read from diverse sources and have thinkers you respect, but none that you worship.


Print Friendly
StumbleUpon It!

This website is supported, in part, by affiliate arrangements (usually Amazon). Affiliate relationships are always marked by bolded links.


38 Responses to “Here’s What’s Wrong with Self-Help”

  1. Brett says:

    *Standing ovation*.

    Excellent, excellent post, Scott. Best thing I’ve read on the ‘Net in a week or more.

    I don’t have anything else to add.

  2. Haider says:

    Hi Scott,

    I think many people aren’t fans of both versions of self-help because they don’t believe that people can change. They think we have inherent strengths and weaknesses, and fixed personality traits. Life is about living as you are, and not trying to change who you are.

    And I don’t understand how readers can agree with everything they read, but this might reveal one of the flaws in how we approach self-help: we consider all ideas within the self-help realm equally valid and effective, rather than evaluate them based on the results they can create in our lives.

    It’s one thing for an idea to sound good in a blog post, or as a book title, but quite another for it to be applied in the real world.

  3. Scott Young says:

    Haider,

    But don’t you see that striving to live as you are and accept yourself *IS* one of the philosophical approaches to living. The mere idea of thinking about it and deciding upon it would fit into my broader definition of self-help.

    I suppose there is a subsection of the population who aims to live entirely without introspection about larger life issues, but I feel these people are the minority. Most of the people who dislike self-help dislike it for the stylistic reasons I discussed (or sometimes the popular tenets of its substance), not because they intend to live life completely unexamined.

    -Scott

  4. Jen Gresham says:

    Actually, what I can’t understand is the general dissatisfaction and distrust among people for Self-Help coupled with the crazy popularlity of Tony Robbins. I know people who diss Self-Help in general but love that guy. I haven’t read his books (I dislike Self-Help enormously myself), but at some point I’m going to have to, just to see what all the fuss is about.

    Scott, I for one greatly appreciate the distinction you put behind your business and your blog posts. I’ve never mistaken your style for Self-Help. Just keep doing what you’re doing!

  5. Scott Young says:

    Jen,

    Funny you say that, Tony Robbins is one person I would definitely associate with as being Self-Help. I’ve enjoyed some of Tony’s writings, especially in my earlier days when I was just discovering lowercase self-help, but have moved away from a lot of his ideas since.

    Tony, to me, represents Self-Help. He has grown an enormously large business off his ideas, and portrays many of the stylistic flaws of Self-Help writing. That said, the substance of some of his ideas does have merit.

    -Scott

  6. David Button says:

    Dear Scott,

    Brilliant post as per usual!

    In my personal experience, I find the majority of people want direct answers of which are summarized in lists and applicable RIGHT NOW. They don’t want to spend the effort or time reading explanations or coming to conclusions of their own.

    That can be a problem because some wild claims are made without explanations (why do they work?) and also because some advice is directed towards the general public. A person may need more specific advice suited toward their circumstances and way of living.

    Keep up the great work!

  7. Scott,

    I think many your friend or other people who have an issue with “self help” think that only people with problems or issues need “self help” books and gurus and many do not think they need any help in that regard. I was one of these people once upon a time, then I realize there are many aspects in my life need improvement but it was self discovery on my own.

    We can force people to believe, they have to feel the change within themselves. I like your thought provoking posts always.

  8. Thomas says:

    Scott,

    It’s hard for me to properly convey the appreciation I have for what you wrote. I think that too often those of us writing personal development or self-help material ignore how Self-Help®. In fact I’ve been wanting to write about it myself, but have ironically been too busy writing about self-help to address it.

    I think that on top of all the reasons you gave that one of the enormous problems with self-help is that it proposes a cure-all solution to life’s problems. Stead-fast solutions are what sell. They sell books, seminars, videos, everything that conveys the solution. These solutions are marketed as if they work for everyone, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are and that it always works.

    Nothing in life is like that. Nothing works for everyone, and no advice is invincible in that sense. This fact is wholly ignored by most people peddling Self-Help® because it doesn’t sell– that brand of honesty would most often reduce sales. People want a guarantee when they spend their money that they are receiving value for what they’re paying. That’s understandable. But no such guarantee can exist when it comes to self-help. You are taking a risk when you buy a book or attend a seminar, and that scares people from spending money.

    However I think that pretending that ones advice is failure-proof is more damaging in the long run, both to the people consuming self-help and to the people providing it, and it makes me hopeful for the future of self-help to see a post like this one.

    Telling people that not all advice is perfect and that they need to think for themselves in terms of what works for them and what doesn’t sometimes opens doors that wouldn’t otherwise be opened had you not said anything. It seems like common sense, but when people get in that zone of listening to everything you’re saying, they need that push.

    My apologies for the massive comment, but this subject hits close to home for me. I haven’t been reading your site for very long, but so far it’s been an absolute pleasure. Keep it up. Believe me, it’s worth it.

  9. Wendy Irene says:

    I can’t believe I just read this because I had a long, long car ride today and was thinking a lot about this topic. I love when that happens! When you end up places like you’re meant to. Anyway, as someone who strongly believes in self betterment and finds joy in the feeling of continual growth I think self help is a beautiful thing. It is only as good as humans and I believe the key for giving self help is that it is important for one not to think they have all the answers. I love helping and supporting others and I would love to create a career in doing just that. For me that would be incredibly rewarding! I think some people have great strength in their ability to help others, you being one of them. For me personally when I try to help someone I don’t go from the perspective that I have all the answers OR that I am right, more that I love to think deeply and what I can offer is possibly a different perspective for looking at a situation.
    Where I’ve struggled in my thinking is how to feel good about both earning a living to support my family and help others, something I’d do for free simply because I care. I love people and if I can help I want to, not because they are paying me. This is why I personally love blogs. They help people think about things deeper, looking at things differently, and it is all free and can come from a place of genuine care without the promise of money. It is a wonderful way to bring it all together. Somehow balance it out in the universe. Help to provide for yourself and your loved ones, and help simply because you care about others. Great post!

  10. Mitch Tarala says:

    Fantastic post!

    It’s kind of funny to write about self help and Self-Help like that, from a self help point of view!

    :)

    Cheers! Keep the great articles coming!

  11. A.H.A. says:

    I agree with what you’re writing here, mostly, but there has also been a bias that is too much AGAINST the Self-Help(r) industry in the self-help blogosphere. A guy like Tony Robbins might seem like a really sleazy salesman but he is still fun to read or listen to. Why choose one or the other? Why not have it all?

    Me, I’m going to read Scott Young AND Tony Robbins, LessWrong AND Steve Pavlina, Cal Newport AND David Deangelo, etc. Get as many reality-tunnel viewpoints as possible :)

    It’s easy to understand why some people don’t learn about car repair or computer programming. It just doesn’t interest them. But since pretty much everyone is interested in having a better life, why are self-improvement junkies the minority?

    Because the majority is lazy and utterly myopic in their viewpoints on life? Why do you assume that they actually have a valid reason?

    Self-help tells you to be conscious about your life and what you are doing with it, the closest thing to that in the “mainstream” would be abstruse wankers in philosophy who just smother you with endless tomes of esoteric jargon, academic degree-whoring, semantic nitpicking, and zero answer-providing about life questions. I say self-help ftw :)

  12. A.H.A. says:

    I suppose there is a subsection of the population who aims to live entirely without introspection about larger life issues, but I feel these people are the minority.

    I don’t agree. Most people sure DO seem to be “walking through life in a walking daze”. Robots stuck in a reality-tunnel, in RA Wilson’s terms. They might delude themselves into thinking they are making critically examined choices about eg politics and stuff, but that’s just their genes talking: http://www.halfsigma.com/2005/06/politics_and_ge.html

    Is it an assholish thing to say that the majority of the population are more or less simian robots acting out imprinted programs? Yes. Is it true or false though…?

  13. Max says:

    Funny, I kinda stopped reading your blog since i felt like your site has become more of a mainstream blog with more of the usual Self-Help content.

    I prefered the time you spent more of your articles on specific topics (e.g. learning) rather than the typical topics I can find everywhere on the internet!

    However this post got my attention… I’d argue your blog has turned into Self-Help… get back to your old shape and stop writing the usual general stuff just to address a wider audience!

    In case you haven’t watched it you should watch “Seth Godin on standing out” on Ted.com, summarizes clearly what I’m trying to say!

  14. ChristianKl says:

    I think there another reason for the success bias.
    The book author just doesn’t see the readers that fail. A few people will write him that he changed their lives. A few people will complain but he won’t see the majority of people that are in the middle.

    When giving a 3 day seminar the guru sees that his audience is all pumped up at the end. He doesn’t see what happens with them after a year.

    I think that there a lot of money to be made by developing an automatic software based course that tracks the success of the user.
    Then the course could be optimized over time to provide better results.

    A lot of people read a book and don’t actually put the stuff into action.
    A more software based course might require the user to report on the results he had with exercises before the user can go further.

    If the course is hosted and is dynamic there no problem with piracy.
    If the software runs automatically there no problem with giving the first months worth of exercises for free.

  15. dave says:

    Hey A.H.A,

    I think your view of majority of people is a little negative. Surely there are many ways to approach life which are acceptable and us “self-help afficianados” don’t need to be sitting there judging away whilst feeling all superior and smug. i am actually a little jealous of people who seem mostly content with life without feeling the need to constantly strive. perhaps they are happier?

    anyway that brings me to what i think a couple reasons are. Firstly I agree with Preeti that there is a certain stigma attached to self-help. that being that anyone who needs it must be hiding/carrying some massive character/personality flaws.

    Secondly, I wonder if certain personality types are more drawn to self-help? It seems to me like people who are more driven to excel at things, to compete and be the best, to achieve, achieve, achieve would be more likely to be drawn to it.

    Tying in with these two, it can also be that people are driven by some deep sense of inadequacy which causes them to strive to constantly better themselves in order to prove themselves a “worthy person” as if to say they are not otherwise worthy of love.

    I put myself in all (well both given i only named 2) those categories although I’m sure there are many other more “worthy” reasons to pursue self betterment and some people are more pursuing happiness in itself rather than trying to get at it indirectly like i seem to do.

  16. Very interesting read Scott. To be honest, I don’t believe in the 2 types of self help. I think the moment we try to do that, is the moment we potentially dismiss important truths that can help us in life.

    Personally, I don’t feel like many people are thirsty for self-betterment. I wish such wasn’t the case, but the majority are just going through the motions, doing whatever makes them the happiest.

    I have no problem with such a lifestyle but it’s just not for me. The people that are reading this blog, that have commented here, etc; are clearly in the minority– but such is the case for all thought leaders.

    The concept of self-improvement is utterly beautiful in every way. Do certain people take it and screw it up? Yes, of course. Do certain people get caught up in their own fame? Certainly. Are some authors and speakers flat-out liars? Absolutely.

    But such does not diminish the idea of living our lives in an effort to seek truth and get better. That’s what I am– a truth seeker. Much of what I hear is not in accord with my beliefs, and so I move on. Notwithstanding, I continually find nuggets of truth in almost everyone and everything.

    Again, self-help is good in all its forms…..it’s the people that mess it up.

  17. Scott Young says:

    Max,

    Interesting you say that. My earlier writing was definitely a lot more Self-Help, and I possessed the biases I described more strongly. That said, my focus on the blog has gotten less specific and practical and more big-thinking ideas, so that could be where your impression is coming from.

    My #1 Rule for writing my blog is to write posts I personally would like to read. I spent ages trying to impress certain subsections of my audience and it didn’t leave me satisfied with the blog. If I ask myself, “If this were written, by another blogger on another blog I just found, would I enjoy it,” and the answer is “yes” that’s all I worry about.

    Perhaps your point also owes to Seth Godin’s comment about self-help books you like being just books, without stigma. If you enjoyed my writing it wouldn’t be self-help, if you don’t, it is. Something for authors in our niche to be aware of in the least.

    AHA,

    I disagree. Certainly there are some people who do literally walk through life in a daze, I won’t argue with you there. But most people do have dreams, hopes and at least some philosophy attached to how they live their life, they might just not wear it on their sleeve for all to see.

  18. Kent says:

    Scott,

    Very good post. Having been an avid player in the Self Help industry for 8 years and authoring 6 books, I have recently made more of a conscious effort to estrange myself from the “industry” surrounding (capitalized) Self Help. I like the critiques you raise about Self Help and after being part of it for many years, I can certainly see the accuracy of your ideas. Although I really enjoy improving myself and my life, I now seek different means to that end. I too, have started a blog (www.dontgetburnedblog.com) to voice my thoughts about improving one’s life without all the “hype.” Another good post Scott. Keep up the good work Scott.

    - Kent

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is a very interesting post! When I read your post “Why Pursue Personal Development?,” I felt differently about “self-help” and was quite eager to read this post.
    I’m always open to self-help.
    I checked out anything about self help and personal development. Of course, there are books that are Self-Help® and I felt hopeless because I thought I could never accomplish such things- that is before I read Cal Newport’s most recent book(read them all, but I like his recent one the best).

    “I found it interesting not because it’s unusual to say, but because it’s common….I know many people who wouldn’t be caught dead walking around the self-help aisle of a bookstore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the desire to live a better life.”
    Really? I never thought about it. Whooo. I’m always caught walking around the self-help aisle. What does that make me? xD

  20. Anonymous says:

    Then again, the self-help books I avoid are those by Dale Carnegie. In my childhood, punishment was to sit in a corner, read and memorize from his books. (However, I did read- I believe, his wife’s self help book, no traumatizing experience with her.)
    “Never force someone to read a self-help book” is a very true statement.

  21. Anonymous says:

    ^ I meant recite from his books.

  22. Scott Young says:

    Kent,

    Thanks, this post wasn’t meant to bash the capitalized Self-Help, merely to point out some of its weaknesses and explain why some people dislike it. I still enjoy Self-Help when it’s done by original thinkers who aren’t reciting tired clichés.

    -Scott

  23. Cal says:

    As a fellow blogger, I’m impressed by your willingness to discuss openly your own battles with the capital/lower case distinction here. Case in point, your final paragraphs, where you discuss the tension between the business and idea side of your writing.

    I think this honesty should be emulated by more; myself included. (I’ve never been quite comfortable with the tension between my ideas and my books; I honestly think they’re an extension of my ideas while I also honestly hate telling people to buy them!)

  24. Travis says:

    Great article, Scott.

    It strikes me that while many people are interested in improving their lives, they aren’t interested in consciously taking that challenge head-on. They haven’t consciously admitted to themselves, “I want to improve my life. I want to change my way of living.” As a result, Self-Help® books tend to be read by two kinds of people:

    1) Those who are desperate for a solution to one problem or another (the stereotypical self-help consumer)

    2) Those who have consciously chosen to observe, experiment, and ultimately improve their lives (most of the people reading this blog).

    I think as the field evolves, we will see more genuine, congruent, “self-help” books on the market. They’re already all over the blogosphere.
    That will be a great day.

  25. mike says:

    Great post!

    There are only so many ways to improve yourself, so it is easy to become jaded about self help when new gurus arrive every year with supposedly new info. sadly, some of the best material gets lost in the shuffle.

    I bought a book on Amazon last year that looks like ot was written in 1988 using WordPerfect. the formatting and the clip art is laughable, but the content is AWESOME! It is called “Self Discipline in 30 Days” It is all killer and no filler. Sadly, that is probably why it has never become famous :(

    FYI – I get nothing for this endorsement. I just love this book!

  26. Scott Young says:

    Cal,

    I completely agree. Were I running a regular business, selling widgets, I wouldn’t worry about salesmanship, since my customers would expect it and I would deliver it. However when the act of selling influences the ideas you try to sell, I think that creates a certain tension in most authors minds.

    Most authors go to one or the other extreme: completely selling out their ideas to make a buck or sabotaging their business because they refuse to sell. I think juggling the tension in a way that’s somewhere in between is far more difficult, something that you and I are striving to do.

    Travis,

    Perhaps you’re more optimistic than I am. I don’t think there will be a substantial change in the stylistic biases of self-help (although they will periodically rotate as people get fed up with one, they switch to another), but I’m also not as disappointed because I anticipate the bias and still find the content useful.

    As I say in the article, I think the only solution in the end is to, as readers, be consciously aware of these biases so we can respect authors without worshiping them, be inspired by successes while recognizing hidden failures, realize that most “final answers” are a tad more ambiguous in real life.

    -Scott

  27. Anonymous says:

    1) “Those who are desperate for a solution to one problem or another (the stereotypical self-help consumer)”

    2) “Those who have consciously chosen to observe, experiment, and ultimately improve their lives (most of the people reading this blog).”

    Hmm..I confess,I was #1 but I’m progressing towards #2. Interesting classification.

  28. Sandra Lee says:

    This article really resonates for me! Even though I write about personal development, I feel a certain discomfort about how that term appears to many people. Especially with entry to blogging being so quick and easy, there are so many people jumping into the personal development field and monetizing their blogs quickly ~ which doesn’t always give the best impression.

    I’m happy you have the guts to address this issue and am happy to see the possible pitfalls you have highlighted.

    Thanks!

  29. Do Over Guy says:

    Great post! This is my first time here… and I’ll be back :-)

  30. Marc says:

    What a wonderful surprise to stumble upon an article written with such depth and integrity.Thank you so much Scott.
    Well, speaking as someone who has never felt shy wandering around the Self-Help sections, I have to confess that my seemingly eternal quest for “wanting success” (whatever that means) has probably returned full circle to indifference.
    Indifference in the sense that if a Wells Fargo truck happened to swerve around the corner and a sack-load of non-sequential $100 bills miraculously careened out the back door,double hopping the tarmac straight into my outstretched arms, then I would bow my head to the heavens, smile and walk away. Likewise, if the truck driver stopped and asked for his money back then I would return it graciously with a smile. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
    Exaggeration..hell, yes…but you get my point.
    For me the contest is not between self help and SELF HELP.
    because I find myself lurching between the two worlds of Self-Help and Self-not needing help and the latter is becoming a far sweeter place to be.
    My conclusion is that the very best, and ultimately the most useful,form of Self-Help is acceptance. I am what I am and it is what it is. Everything else takes up so much energy.

  31. Scott Young says:

    Marc,

    Acceptance is important. But I don’t view life in terms of a dichotomy between accepting vs wanting more. I think you can also accept the wanting of things, the desire to create, explore and achieve and accept those desires without letting them rule your psyche. But perhaps, that’s a tenuous balance so it’s easier to swing between complacent acceptance and unrelenting ambition.

    -Scott

  32. Marc says:

    …or unrelenting acceptance and complacent ambition:-)

  33. shreevidya says:

    HI, u hav presented the facts so well and fair enough. liked it!

  34. d says:

    you are part of all the ‘self-help’ books out there my friend!!! haha just kidding, every situation needs a different approach. It seems as if you’re trying to be different, and thats good, not following the herd and all, but then again, a leaf is the same as the tree even though we think it’s not.

  35. Emma says:

    “The second definition is of Self-Help®. Instead of representing the broad struggle for meaning and happiness in life, it represents a much narrower opinion on what the answer to that question is.”

    Best thing ever written.

  36. Diana says:

    I know right, those authors forces you to feel positive in times of suffering? Are they serious? Psychologists suggests that, like overly positive praise, unreasonably positive self-statements, such as “I accept myself completely,” can provoke contradictory thoughts in individuals with low self-esteem. Such negative thoughts can overwhelm the positive thoughts. And, if people are instructed to focus exclusively on positive thoughts, they may find negative thoughts to be especially discouraging.

  37. Lee-ann says:

    What I don’t like about those books is that they want to make you feel a certain way. But people have different ways of dealing the same thing. This was a nice post. Those self-help “gurus” are insensitive sometimes making stupid analogies when people are at their low points.

    If someone has a problem, better leave it to a registered counsellor not some marketing one-size-fits-all book :-)

  38. Tatiana says:

    I am currently taking a class to develop a blog. Right now, I’m working on a genre analysis regarding self-development; this post has given me much insight to the way people see self-help and I thank you for your clear cut ideas. I’m still new to the blogosphere but, from what I see, the intention of your blog, along with this particular post, are simply inspirational! I’m excited to check out your work. Thanks again!

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

Leave a Reply